The Chief Inspector writes in the MAIB Annual Report 2014, just published, as follows:
2014 was another busy year for the MAIB. Thirty-one investigations were started and 33 investigation reports were published. Two Safety Digests and three Safety Bulletins were also published. In comparison to 2013, the average time taken to complete an investigation decreased slightly from 10.9 to 10.2 months.
For the fifth year in succession no UK merchant vessels of >100gt were lost. The overall accident rate for UK merchant vessels >100gt was unchanged from 2013 at 88 per 1000 vessels. There were no crew deaths on UK merchant vessels >100gt, and a review of available records from the last 50 years suggests this has never happened before. The average number of deaths over the last 10 years is 4 per year.
Six small UK vessels (<100gt) were lost in 2014 and five crew lost their lives. Four of these were lost in a single accident when the yacht Cheeki Rafiki suffered a detached keel and capsized in the North Atlantic.
Twelve commercial fishing vessels were lost in 2014 compared with 18 in 2013. This compares favourably with the average losses during the last 10 years (19 vessels per year). 75% of the losses were in the small < 15 metre sector. Eight fishermen lost their lives in 2014 compared with only four lives lost in 2013. The average number of fishermen who lost their lives over the last 10 years is 8.5.
Fifty-nine recommendations were issued during 2014 to 63 addressees. 88.8% were accepted compared with 96.7% in 2013, although substantive responses are still awaited for some of these. The recipients of three MAIB recommendations, domiciled outside of the UK, have not provided a response.
One recommendation was rejected. It was made to the manufacturer of the RIB “Milly” following a fatal accident in the Camel Estuary in Cornwall when six people were ejected from the boat, resulting in the loss of two lives and life-changing injuries to two others. Analysis of the handling characteristics of the boat when making high speed turns during trials conducted by the MAIB suggested the steep angle of heel adopted by the vessel during such turns, could be reduced through design changes to the hull. However, the manufacturer has concluded that the hull design is extremely safe “in all likely and realistic manoeuvres”.
Two recommendations were partially accepted. The first, made as a consequence of the grounding of the cargo vessel Danio off the Farne Islands, seeks to address the scourge of seafarer fatigue, which continues to blight vessels trading in the short sea sector, by increasing the numbers of qualified watchkeepers on board such craft. A similar measure was proposed by the UK following the MAIB’s 2004 Bridge Watchkeeping Safety Study, but the proposal met with considerable opposition from international partners. It is to the credit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) that it is prepared to take this important issue to the IMO again despite misgivings about the likely success of any new proposal due to continued international opposition. The second recommendation to be partially accepted was issued to the manufacturer of the ECDIS fitted to the tanker Ovit, which ran aground on the Varne Bank in September 2013. One of a number of safety issues identified during the MAIB’s investigation relating to the display of safety critical information was the failure of an alarm function when the safety contour was about to be crossed. However, the manufacturer’s observation that the failure was due to an installation, rather than a design, problem has been accepted and this recommendation has been closed.